Grieve the loss, but don’t call him

Joey Garcia

Early on, my Los Angeles-based boyfriend and I chose an exclusive, committed relationship. I visited every three weeks, and he came to Sacramento every fourth time. We spoke or e-mailed daily. Last week, he called three days before his flight and said he was in love with someone else. I was stunned and pressed him for information. He said the woman was married, living with her husband and we had both met her six weeks earlier. I recall meeting her and feeling sorry for her; she seemed lonely. He and I have not spoken since that five-minute call, but I keep fixating on this. What should I do?

Put your mind at ease. When relationships end, our brain grabs random memories and attempts to snap those moments into a sequential pattern. It’s like assembling a Rubik’s Cube. The brain believes that if can just solve the puzzle, it will be obvious who should be blamed. But what if you did nothing wrong?

Think of it this way: Your relationship died when your boyfriend admitted he was pursuing someone else. The primary harm is to the husband of the married woman. Yes, your ex-boyfriend also betrayed you, but you received a gift: knowledge that he is not worth a longer-term investment. So grieve the death of your connection, but don’t call him seeking solace. Let the five-minute conversation be enough. Focus on learning: What parts of the relationship worked? What qualities would you like in a future partner? Were you fully yourself, or did you hide certain traits to be more appealing to him? Was there genuine love or primarily infatuation? Gather these ideas into a list to review before you begin dating again.

I grew up in an abusive environment, but my mom has always been there for me. We’ve been experiencing financial problems, and her boyfriend is mean to her. My mom says she is giving up and doesn’t even care about me anymore. I’m only 18. What should I do?

Understand that your mom is hitting bottom, emotionally. She’s drunk on depression and that inspires her to say hurtful things. When someone reaches a crisis level, like your mom has, no amount of love from you can initiate change. Your mom needs the services of a professional psychotherapist to learn tools to cope with her feelings and to change her life. Talk to an adult you trust and ask for help with your mom’s situation.

Your mom may be angry at you initially for revealing her suffering. But once her healing begins, she will be deeply grateful for your courage. I also want you to make a counseling appointment for yourself. You need a safe place to unload the drama you have endured and a guide to help you to find a path into a happier life.

You blew it when you said if people see a homeless person stealing, they should offer to pay for the item (“It’s not blowing away the pain,” SN&R Ask Joey, December 2). I’m homeless. If someone is shoplifting in front of you, it’s none of your business. And if the store is part of a corporation that rakes in money from tax breaks, who cares? They’re ripping us all off. I would never steal, but if I did, it would never be from a mom-and-pop shop, but a chain? Who cares?

I care. Plus, I believe that if something happens in public, it’s my business. So if you were at a mom-and-pop shop and I observed a pickpocket stealing from you or a cashier providing incorrect change, I would speak up. It’s just my nature to treat you as a friend.

But I can’t support your eye-for-an-eye argument to justify stealing from corporations. As Gandhi pointed out, that kind of revenge makes us all blind.

Meditation of the week
“If you asked me for my New Year resolution, it would be to find out who I am,” said the Irish actor Cyril Cusack. Well, that would be new, wouldn’t it? To spend a year discovering yourself, rather than trying to adopt habits you imagine might perfect you?

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